Nikon FM2 Review (with lots of test photos!)

Chances are if you’ve landed here you are looking for a film camera. The Nikon FM2 is one of the best film cameras that are readily available on the second-hand market. If you’re looking to learn more you can see our travel photography page.

Nikon FM2 Video Review

Why choose an FM2? (or FM2n)

This camera body is all you need in a great 35mm general purpose SLR camera. It will do everything. The camera is light, tough, accurate and fast. To be 100% comfortable with the camera you will need an understanding of how to manually focus and expose an image.

The beauty of a fully mechanical camera is that all you need is a roll of film. Aside from the meter, you do not need a battery to take photos. You wind to advance the film, this loads the shutter system then “click” that energy is let go and the image is captured.

This means that you put a film into the camera, thus fixing your ISO. Next, you determine the aperture or shutter speed that you need to achieve the look you desire. Then, alter the setting that you have not chosen until the meter indicates a correct exposure.

cultured kiwi nikon camera

Camera Features

They are one of the most durable, fully mechanical, cameras on the market. Designed to be self-lubricating, you can expect to do very little maintenance. This means that buying a used one will often result in a great product. It has a honeycomb titanium shutter design that is as solid as it sounds!

Compatible with the Nikon F lens mount. If you look on eBay you can see thousands of these lenses available for sale. Therefore you can experiment with many different focal lengths for almost no cost. Full frame quality images at such a low cost.

This camera has a dedicated Double Exposure setting. It disconnects the film advance and the shutter cocking mechanism. This makes it a great camera for both high-quality images and a bit of creative experimentation.

Nikon FM2 with Kodak Portra and Kodak Tri X

It uses a centre weighted meter. Therefore you need to be careful. If you have a very bright subject in the centre of the image it will tend to expose for that which will result in very dark surroundings. I tend to find that erring on the over-exposure side of things (in this situation) yields better results.

However, this camera is not for street photography. If you are looking solely for a street photography camera then I always recommend looking at rangefinders. Manually focusing on a moving subject with an SLR is difficult. If you want a general “do it all” kind of camera then this Nikon is where I would recommend you spend your money.

Finally, you are able to pick up a used Nikon FM2 for around £200. Often with a lens or two included. Lenses are cheap and plentiful so you are never going to get bored with experimenting.

ben kepka Nikon FM2 low light

FM2 Specifications

  • Fully Mechanical
  • Titanium Shutter
  • Centre Weighted Light Meter
  • Shutter Speeds 1s – 1/4000s
  • Flash Sync 1/250s
  • Compatable with all AF/MF Lenses since 1958
  • Made from 1978 – 1983

For recommendations on beginner film cameras and what to look for when purchasing an old film camera, check out my full article here.

FM2 vs. FM2n

There are very few differences between the two models. The flash sync speed was increased from 1/200 of a second to 1/250 of a second. The hotshoe was re-designed (purely for looks). Finally, the mirror box was updated to add a light trap. Wikipedia has a full explanation of this but it’s pretty wordy.

TLDR: Not much changed, they are basically the same.

A double exposure taken on the Nikon FM2. One underexposed photo of me and one of the sunset.

A double exposure was taken on the camera. One underexposed photo of me and one of the sunset. To learn how to take double exposures on all types of cameras see our guide linked above.

Why shoot film in 2018?

I have been shooting a lot of videos and digital photography of late. This isn’t a problem for me, but I tend to find that about once every two months I lack the drive to take photos. The cure for me has always been to disconnect the end result from the process. This allows your brain to relax when shooting and fall into the moment rather than getting the shot. Shooting film is the only way that ensures I can’t cheat! To learn how you can overcome a creative drought, see this film here.

Don’t get me wrong, I would never go back to shooting film professionally. You will have to pry my 5D (or my future equivalent) from my cold dead hands. Analogue photography always allows me to fall back in love with the art of photography. The art of creation, outside of the digital realm.

If you’re ever in a creative rut then I highly recommend giving it a try.

Broadstairs UK

Broadstairs is a coastal town on the Isle of Thanet, in Kent, England. It is about 130 km east of London. If you are living in London, there is a fast train from Stratford International Station that will have you on the beach in around 1 hour 25min.

If you have any questions around locations or how/why I did certain things, contact me using any of the social channels below. Or, just use the comment section after the pictures.

When you arrive it is a short 5 min walk to the beach, past the shopping district that includes a few hidden treasures. The thought-to-be-extinct video store made an appearance, as did a small magic shop. It turns out all their patrons are yet to disappear.

As the high street winds to a close, you pass Dickens’ house. An ode to the authour, as Broadstairs was his favourite holiday destination. It is here that you are greeted by the first of seven impressive golden sandy bays. This view is one to soak in.

Viking Bay is the main beach, featuring azure blue water, dark golden sand and many pastel coloured storage sheds. Each of which alone (or combined) make an amazing location for photography.

From here you can take a coastal walk south around the remaining 6 sandy bays. Remember to check the tidal times as you can become cut off and are then forced to get very wet feet! The walk is an absolute must!

Best times to visit Broadstairs:

  • June: Dickens Festival (A week of costumes plays and beach time)
  • Mid-August: Broadstairs Folk Week (Music and gardens)
  • October: Broadstairs Food Festival (self explanatory)

Nikon FM2 Sample Images (Kodak Portra 400)

seagull broadstairs uk nikon fm2

sunset sea kodak portra 400

broadstairs seaside storage film photography

crashing waves high shutter speed nikon fm2

metal detector man nikon 50mm f1.4

A double exposure of Viking Bay in Broadstairs taken with the Nikon FM2.

lady walking in the light on Portra 400 Film

see crashes onto seaweed with Nikon FM2

film cameras testing the film advance lever

sea wall in Broadstairs. Can you spot her?

man enjoying view in Broadstairs

wind turbines in Thames Estury Nikon FM2n

Broadstairs Train Station at Sunset Film Photography